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Gates of Heaven

GATES OF HEAVEN is an eccentric portrait of the American dream, shown through the story of two California pet cemeteries, the people who run them, and the men and women who bury their pets there.

Director: Errol Morris
Year: 1978
Time: 83 min
Club Member Rating:
 Gates of Heaven
(1978) on IMDb

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Ways to Influence

Share this film to inspire others, and tell your own story! As is evidenced in this wonderful film, everyone has fascinating stories of their own, so document yours via writing or recording yourself recounting the tale.

Follow Errol Morris on Twitter at @errolmorris for more intriguing and often hysterical commentary in 140 characters or less.

Get a pet of your own! Not only will they become a loving member of your family, but countless animals around the world are in need of good homes. Check out your local shelter to see if you can help give a needing pet a new home.

Explore your community in search of its own odd and intriguing locales! Every city has its own character just waiting to be found.

Related Articles and Resources

Q & A With Errol Morris

“It’s pretty easy to describe the underlying motivation. One word: Desperation.”

Filmmaker Errol Morris answers questions from the audience about GATES OF HEAVEN, touching on subjects such as the process of starting a documentary project, what he found intriguing about pet cemeteries and the renowned “shoe wager” with Werner Hertzog.

Watch the full Q & A here.

The History of the Domestic Cat

Educate yourself on the history of our modern day cat on About.com.

The Thinking Man’s Detective

An article praising Errol Morris as “America’s most surprising and provocative public intellectual”

From Seminary to the Cemetery

“Questions about the religious status of animals have always been with us; popular theology refuses to deny animals their souls. Our sense of spiritual kinship is already latent in the bootees and little sweaters we buy our pets, and the sidewalk baby talk with which we embarrass ourselves, and perhaps them. Consider how we treat our pets in death.”

Continue reading on The New York Times.

Famous Animal Gravesites

“Arguably the nation’s most famous Thoroughbred, Man o’War is buried at the entrance to Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.”

But it’s not just Kentucky Derby winners that are buried with great honor.

Read about some of the worlds most famous animals and were they have been buried on the Smithsonian Magazine.

The Final Farewell

“In other articles, I’ve talked about the most painful decision a pet owner ever has to face – the decision about whether, or when, to euthanize a pet. But the death of a pet brings with it yet another difficult decision, and one which you may not be prepared, at the moment of loss, to deal with.”

Continue reading here.

Fascinating Funeral Traditions From Around the Globe

We are all familiar with the typical western funeral. Black clothes and church or synagogue ceremonies. A casket or urn being lowered into the dark earth of the grave. Prayers, speeches, flowers and tears. Though this may be the most common funeral tradition – it is not the only one.

Here you can discover some other ways the deceased are honored around the globe.

Beyond the GATES OF HEAVEN

“On a weekday afternoon, a visitor can stroll among the graves, and past the twin-pillar mesh sign dedicating the park to bereaved pet owners, amid a silence only faintly broken by distant birds. But all is not solemnity in the park…”

Find out more here.

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